Manicures make your nails look and feel glamorous, just as your makeup, clothes and shoes do! This is especially true for gel nail polish, a product that gives nails a rich, lustrous and shiny color as well as longer-lasting results.
But here’s the thing about gel manicures – these can actually dry out and damage your nails! The ingredients in gel polish can break down the nail resulting in splitting, peeling and/or breaking of the nails, especially when it’s in direct contact with the nails for prolonged periods. There’s also the matter of using acetone foil wrap in removing the gel polish – the acetone also dries up the nail and increases its risk of damage.
The bottom line: Gel polish may be a boon to your nails, appearance-wise, but when it isn’t applied and removed properly, it can also be a bane. You must adopt preventative measures to ensure that your nails stay healthy even with regular use of gel polish, and here are the things that you can start with.
Ask for a Nourishing Basecoat
Nail salons that use the latest manicure technology – LA Nails come to mind immediately – apply a nourishing basecoat on the nails followed by the topcoat. The basecoat contains protective ingredients that nourish the nails and provide a protective layer for them, too. The combination of a basecoat and a topcoat also means a longer-lasting layer that will keep your nails looking like new, so to speak.
Keep in mind that the basecoat isn’t the gel polish itself and the topcoat isn’t the clear nail polish that adds shine and seals in the base coat. If the nail salon doesn’t have a basecoat product, you can always bring your own; online shops usually sell these products.
Keep Your Nails As Short as Possible
Gel polish will soften nails, particularly when left on for a prolonged period. The softer the nails, the thinner these will be and higher the risk of breakage. The damage isn’t the end of your nail problems, however, as it can lead to infections.
You should then ideally keep your nails as short as possible. You may like long nails like the Kardashians but these aren’t practical, even if they look glamorous.
You don’t have to keep your nails short like a baby’s but it pays to have them at a manageable length. You don’t want your nails to snag on just about everything that come in contact with, from clothes to cellphones, even hair.
Plus, you can still have glamorous nails even when these are relatively short. You can opt for a French manicure, perhaps the most elegant manicure we know.
Apply Sunscreen on Your Hands
In many salons, traditional lamps are used in speeding up the drying process once the topcoat has been applied. While these dryers have their uses, these can also contribute to weaker nails. In this case, you should consider applying sunscreen from your elbows to your fingers about 30 minutes before your appointment. You’re essentially protecting your nails from the ultraviolet rays.
If your favorite salon has a LED dryer for nails, then you can skip the sunscreen. Then again, you may still want to apply sunscreen after your manicure session as protection for your skin and nails.
Avoid Nail Abuse
Biting and picking on your nails with gel polish on it seems like a good idea – at least, it’s a temptation when you’re the nail-biting type. But you should avoid doing both because these will not only remove the basecoat and topcoat, thus, ruining the look of your manicure but, more importantly, your nails can become damaged.
If your gel manicure starts peeling, such as when you weren’t able to go in for your weekly manicure session, you must resist the temptation to peel it off or remove it by soaking your fingers in acetone. You’re better off letting the nail professionals remove the gel polish and make your nails beautiful again.
But if you can’t have a gel manicure yet, particularly when you want your nails to get a break from nail polish of any kind, you can still safely remove the old gel polish.
- Soak your nails in acetone for 15-20 minutes; no more than 20 minutes for safety reasons since acetone can leave nails damaged. Use cotton balls to gently remove the last traces of gel polish.
- Wash your hands with warm water and mild soap to remove the acetone and polish.
- Buff your nail beds to remove stubborn gel polish and increase blood circulation.
- Apply a thick hand moisturizer or lotion into your cuticles to restore moisture.
You may also massage your fingers and fingernails so that these benefit from the increased blood circulation. You can also use a hand scrub on your fingers, follow it with a hand massage using lotion, and applying cuticle oil on your nails – and voila! Your fingernails will be relatively healthy.